Mayor Andy Berke spoke during the Chattanooga Fire Department’s annual Fire Prevention Week kickoff. (Photo: Contributed)

Today, the Chattanooga Fire Department kicked off its annual Fire Prevention Week, aimed at reminding citizens to be prepared for a blaze.

This year, officials aim to convey that every second counts during a fire and encourage residents to plan two ways out of a building.

When a fire starts, a resident only has about two minutes to make it out safely, and having two options increases odds of survival.

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Officials stressed this because of the number of fire-related injuries and deaths this year.

On Sept. 17, one woman suffered serious injuries and another man died during a fire at 1218 Judys Lane. The man had gone back into his home to get something and couldn’t get back out.

On Sept. 20, a woman was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center after she was pulled from a fire in her home at 111 Centro St.

Both fires appeared to be accidental.

To kick off Fire Prevention Week, the Chattanooga Fire Department hosted a ceremony at the Fireman’s Fountain on Georgia Avenue to honor firefighters who have died this year.

Firefighters presented a wreath at the fountain in memory of the fallen during the ceremony, which included a rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the Alhambra Shrine Highlanders Pipes and Drums.

“You make our city safer every day, and for that, I say thank you very much,” Mayor Andy Berke said to the group of firefighters in attendance at the ceremony.

Fire Marshal William Matlock gave some tips citizens can take to help prepare themselves in case of a fire.

—Draw a map of your home with all the members of your family, marking two exits in each room and a path to an outside meeting place.

—Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year. Conduct one fire drill at night and one during the day, and practice different ways out.

—Designate a meeting place outside the home a safe distance from the fire.

—Teach children how to escape from the home on their own.

—Make sure your house number is visible to firefighters so it can be easily found.

—Close the door as you leave a room during a fire to slow it down.

—Once you are outside the home, stay outside. Never re-enter a burning building.

The Chattanooga Fire Department will also be visiting elementary schools in Hamilton County during October to teach kids about fire safety.

The fire department is also hosting a poster contest for kids in elementary, middle and high schools. The winning poster will be displayed on a billboard for a month.

For more information about the Chattanooga Fire Department, click here.

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She currently attends UTC, where she was previously the news editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. Alina also worked at CNN during the summer of 2017 and is the former Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville.

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